Bad Childhood Experiences Still Affect Me

04 April, 2019
Q As-Salamu ‘Alaykum.

I’m 22 years old now. My father has been living in KSA while I, my siblings, and mother are in Pakistan. My father is short-tempered, thus when he visits us, he fights a lot with my mom who always cries and blames their problems on us. He even wanted to divorce my mother. So, I spent my childhood in such an environment.

I was close neither to my siblings nor to my parents. My mother was very strict as she had to take care of us alone. She often beat us whenever we did a mistake or didn’t study well. I was so scared and just focused on my studies.

Since my childhood, I had a bad habit: I used to watch bad movies and then at night slept with my youngest brother and made him touch my private part. I was 10-11 years old at that time. I did this often without being aware of what was haram and halal. Though later on, I realized that it was not correct and stopped sleeping with my brother, I developed the habit of masturbating and watching porn, because I have strong sexual desires in me. So, in order to avoid doing any haram act, I masturbate. I try to stop it and instead watch Islamic lectures, pray, read Quran, but despite all, I still masturbate at night, because it keeps me calm and helps me fall asleep.

My life is full of guilt and bad thoughts, I suffer from migraine. So, I just want to escape from these by masturbating. I know it’s not an excuse, but I don’t know what else to do. I feel helpless being awake for hours when I really want to sleep and thinking bad about myself and my whole life.

I also want to tell you that I just completed my studies. I was good at my studies; therefore, I got admission in a governmental medical institute. I am very lucky to be among the top 2000 students in the province who was selected, and I’m really grateful to Allah for everything He granted me. But I have this problem since my childhood that I want to remain isolate although I have a large social circle. People like me a lot because I am always ready to help others, but I have these “attacks” or depression, or I don’t know what it is. Sometimes, I just cut off from everyone without any reason and cry for hours. I had periods when I remained quiet for two months living in the same room with my friends, just weeping. I don’t like gatherings. I hardly go shopping in the bazaar, and I feel like I have no desires for this world. Also, I love Islam, I pray a lot, read Quran, and want to know more about it. I even did ‘Umrah, but I still feel inside that I am not good enough in front of Allah as I sinned a lot. I repented, but I fell into the same mistakes. I feel I am a hypocrite.

One of the mistakes was having a relationship with a man. After 2 years in the university, I started having male friends because I was depressed. My family didn’t care about me, I needed care and attention which I got from these guys. But hamduliallah, I realized that what I was doing was not correct, so I cut all ties with them. Then, my dad came to Pakistan and there was a huge clash with my mom that he wanted to divorce her. I felt depressed and had suicidal thoughts. Through one of my friends, I contacted a knowledgeable ‘alim, his friend, for counseling. He was good and gave me good advice. After a few days, he proposed to me without even seeing me. He said I was too good-hearted and really wanted me as his wife, but his father refused it. The guy said to me he was engaged to another woman due to his dad, but he didn’t want to marry her actually. It was just a duty toward his parents. Unfortunately, we got attached to each other and did everything except having intercourse.

What makes me feel really guilty and depressed more is that it turned out that he had lied to me. He was already married to that woman for 5 years. For the next months, I completely ignored him. He texted me and tried to call me many times saying that everything was just a misunderstanding. Then I got to know that his son was born. I was devastated. A few months later, his wife contacted me saying that he has been talking to a lot of girls. In fact, everyone has been telling me that he was a bad guy and only used me. But in my heart, I couldn’t believe it. Shortly, he contacted me also to tell about his wife, claiming that she still keeps in contact with her ex and talks to other guys. He said he lied about his marriage because he was scared that I would leave him. He said he liked her a lot when he married her, but she didn’t like him; she only married him due to her parents’ wish. He waited hoping that she would change, but she hasn’t. That’s when I came to his life and he knew what love was. He said also that she just wanted a baby, and the family pressured it on him, too, so they had a son. Since then, I have been talking to him again.

I know it’s a mistake, but to be honest, I just love him madly. He asked me to marry him and he would arrange another house for me, but I know my parents would never accept this. So he said then he would remain with me until I also got married, then he could leave me. But one day his wife got one of our Skype chats and sent snapshots of it to all my family members and friends, claiming that I am destroying her marriage. I was so embarrassed. I swear I don’t have any intention of destroying her life. I’ve tired of this all, so I just lied to him that I’m getting engaged next week and I don’t want to talk to him anymore. But I miss him terribly.

I cry because deep down I feel a part of me has gone. I feel he was my soul mate. He made me smile, he was the one who called me early morning and asked me to recite Quran so he would listen; he was the one who fasted for Allah when I had my exams; he was the one who was angry when I missed a prayer or didn’t recite Quran. I know he is not a perfect Muslim, but we help each other on the path of our religion. It has been 9 months now. I was on anti-depressants. I don’t know what to do. I want to forget all and just get closer to Allah.


In this counseling answer:

• It seems you masturbate and watch haram movies to escape from your depressed life. Remain firm in your decision to quit this habit, resolute in your quest, and never give up hope.

• You must stop every contact with him and think about your future. I know you are not thinking rationally at the moment, but you have to know that he is not worth your attention and time.

As Salam ‘Aleikom sister,

First of all, we appreciate that you made effort to share your story with us. I assume, it must have been hard for you. You are very brave! Admitting that you have done wrong and asking for help is surely a very important and wise step. I will do my best to analyze your problem and give you some advice, In sha ‘Allah.

Growing up in such an unbalanced and conflictual home can lead to a lot of distress in the family members, especially the children. You were very young and your parents’ relationship with each other and their divorce have clearly had a huge impact on you. It is normal, but not how it supposed to be.

Children watch the adults (parents) all the time. They are like sponges absorbing the world around them. No matter how hard the parents try to conceal problems, children are sensitive to the tension between their parents and are directly influenced by the way they interact. When parents keep fighting, it often increases their children’s anxiety and perpetual worry. They often start doing things to cut off their emotions.

In your case, it seems you masturbate and watch haram movies to escape from your depressed life. Doing this for so many years has made you want to go back to your ”comfort zone” whenever you feel down and lonely. It is not easy to break this cycle, but if you have the will and effort to change it, I am sure Allah (swt) will reward you. Your depression and anti-social behavior are also linked to your difficult childhood experience, and the guilt you have in yourself is a natural effect from it as well.

Here are a few ways of how you can solve your bad habits:

1- Restrict your internet usage to the bare minimum and only out of need and necessity.

2- Use the computer in a commonplace when people are around you.

3- Avoid being alone all so much or in places where it can trigger you to do this haram act.

4- Before you sleep every night, think about death and how you will be buried in the grave with no one to assist you and help you. Every day, take out some time before you go to sleep and think about death. In sha’ Allah, this will remove the heedlessness from your nafs (soul).

5- Keep yourself occupied at all times. Whenever you have time and you are not really doing anything, make dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Remember that ”An idle mind is a devils workshop”.

Remain firm, resolute in your quest, and never give up hope. Always keep trying and don’t give way to the subtle whisperings of Shaytaan. At first, refraining from sins might be extremely difficult, but after constant struggling of the nafs, the nafs will finally become tamed and then you will feel pleasure in refraining from sins.

Allah (swt) says:

“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (29:69)

Allah (swt) promises those who make effort to gain the love of Allah (swt).

I can understand that it has been difficult to grow up in a home where you felt that you were not given love, care, and affection by your parents. Your father was away most of the time and got divorced from your mother later on, and she had to handle everything on her own which must have been stressful for her to do. You looked for that insurance in wrong places such as in other men. It is haram to have contact with the opposite gender in a flirty manner, and it is strictly prohibited in Islam. I am glad you realized and that you stopped having a relationship with them.


Check out this counseling video:

However, this married man you mentioned whom you still have contact with sounds not like a good person. He already has a wife; he is having secret contact with you and has a baby he is unwilling to admit that he wanted. How can such a man be sincere with anyone? He has lied to you before and can do it again. You are lucky you found out about his dishonesty, but you don’t know what else he has been lying about. You can’t trust him. He knows you are vulnerable and need attention; this is why he uses your weakness to unlock you just so can get what he wants and move on with his life.

You must stop every contact with him and think about your future. I know you are not thinking rationally at the moment, but you have to know that he is not worth your attention and time.

Here are a few things you could try:

  1. Love yourself. Don’t accept the ”crumbs of time” he is offering to you. Don’t you wish to have a solid relationship that will last your lifetime?
  2. You must put yourself in his wife’s position. How would you feel if you were her?
  3. Ask yourself: If he miraculously left his wife for you (which I highly doubt he will do), how long will it be before he carries on an affair behind your back? Can you truly trust him?
  4. You have the power to say no. You have the power NOT to return his phone calls. You may put up all sorts of excuses to justify why you are still with him, but YOU have the power to turn away forever if you want.

Appreciate the life Allah (swt) has given you and all the blessing Allah (swt) has given you whenever you have suicidal thoughts. You are ma sha’ Allah, an intelligent girl and can achieve far in life if you concentrate on the right things. Get married to a man who respects you and is honest with you, and stop wasting your time with a man you know is lying to you and who is already married to someone else. You need someone in your life who can give you true love, and that will only be if you marry a good man. There is no need to tell about your past to your future husband as the sins you have committed are between Allah (swt) and you. Nobody else has to know about it.

Making mistakes is undoubtedly part of human nature, and none of us is free of sin. Repent and never do it again, and I am sure you will be forgiven and get peace of mind, In sha’ Allah.

”Indeed Allah loves those who repent and purify themselves.” (2:222)

May Allah (swt) help you and guide you to the right path, In sha’ Allah.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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